Long Way to Go: Black and White in Americaby Jonathan Coleman
Drawing on countless interviews (marked by astonishing frankness), on diaries, journals, and letters, on events he himself witnessed, and weaving it all into the context of history, Coleman introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters: an alderman who revives a chapter of the Black Panthers and threatens guerilla warfare if certain demands are not met ... a… See more details below
Drawing on countless interviews (marked by astonishing frankness), on diaries, journals, and letters, on events he himself witnessed, and weaving it all into the context of history, Coleman introduces us to a fascinating cast of characters: an alderman who revives a chapter of the Black Panthers and threatens guerilla warfare if certain demands are not met ... a sixties revolutionary who becomes school superintendent ... a white woman who insists she has "earned" her racism ... another who becomes painfully aware of the "privileges" she has just because she is white ... a black family determined that gangs not force them out of their neighborhood ... a Rotarian who wonders why, given everybody's "good intentions," things are still the way they are. By looking at America through the window of Milwaukee, Coleman's journey through the minefield of race becomes our journey. His book is a marvelously constructed tapestry whose power is cumulative, yet one that allows us to look unflinchingly at each individual strand of race in the 1990s - from the ongoing changes in welfare and affirmative action to the successes and failures of integration; from the appointment of Clarence Thomas and the Los Angeles riots to O. J. Simpson and the Million Man March; from life in the ghetto to the lives of those who have escaped it and now exist uneasily in the mainstream; from the bitterness of white conservatives - and the rise of black onesto the disillusionment of white liberals; and many others....
Coleman (At Mother's Request, 1985; Exit the Rainmaker, 1989) spent several months in Milwaukee, a city with a particularly stark racial gap, exploring the intransigent and increasingly dramatic division of American society. Loosely framed by the events that feed the media's discourse on race (Clarence Thomas, Rodney King, etc.), Coleman's account follows his journey, variously enlightening and frustrating, through the conversations that do and do not take place among people facing their own community in crisis. Coleman's generic feature-journalism writing style is unremarkable, but it is his reportorial skills that count, and the real voices of his book are those of the women and men struggling with a momentous historical burden as they conduct lives near Milwaukee's racial fault lines: community activists, city politicians, determined single parents, whites attempting to face their own roles in Milwaukee's dividedness. Their accounts of their experiences, ideals, and anger speak very vividly for themselves, and Coleman effortlessly weaves the pasts that brought them to this present-day impasse into a broad historical context. Indeed, Coleman is constantly attentive to the impact of wider issues (especially long-term economic forces) and other social divisions (especially class). But he invariably returns to the unique way that race penetrates deep into people's perceptions, assumptions, and actions, including his own, even as he gains an understanding of the failures of integration as it has been practiced.
If Coleman inevitably finds little in the way of answers to such dilemmas, he and his readers depart Milwaukee with a richly expanded consciousness of their scope and seriousness, and of the lives at stake in them.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 6.45(w) x 9.43(h) x 1.55(d)
What People are saying about this
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >